A GREAT big, sprawling, ill-disciplined countercultural satire adapted by Terry Southern and Joe McGrath from Southern’s own novel, this is possibly the prime exponent of that genre’s disjointed vignette approach to storytelling. The high concept is got over in the opening minutes – cynical millionaire Guy Grand (Peter Sellers) and his young cohort (Ringo Starr) set out to mock various areas of society by using Grand’s vast wealth to bribe individuals into willfully belittling their own roles in life. And that’s it. Thus the film wavers between sketches on this slender theme which deliver (an on-train board meeting with Dennis Price, the amputation of the nose from a priceless painting as a mortified John Cleese looks on) and those that don‘t (the phrase ‘Laurence Harvey strips while reciting Hamlet’ is about as entertaining as the sketch it describes). By the time Yul Brynner and Christopher Lee are wheeled on for arbitrary cameos aboard a luxury liner that symbolises Britain (somehow) the air of self-importance is stifling. Nearly all the big, sprawling countercultural satires of the ’60s (see also Candy, How I Won the War, If…) punched above their weight to some degree, but The Magic Christian‘s episodic pomp, coupled with the predictability of its disparate scenes and its tendency to coast along on a wave of borrowed countercultural trappings, make it an easy film to watch, but a hard film to like.